Don't cast away! Get the latest tip-ups on fishing the hard water.
Feb Tue 19, 2019 3:57 pm
Goby Jr. and I have been out 8 times so far this season, hitting up 3 different locations. Nothing too ambitious, just local spots for 2-3 hours per outing.
Location 1 -- The medium sized lake
This lake is around 200 acres, up to 30 feet deep and has a lot to offer: great weed beds, deep holes, lots of drop offs and contours, underwater islands, etc. One of the most interesting features of this lake is a 4ft deep flat mostly covered with reeds except for a .5 acre horseshoe shaped clearing in the middle of the reeds. This lake contains nice population of bass, pike, and big gills. We've also caught some nice perch and crappie.
Goby Jr. and I have done really well here during open water across much of the lake. During ice season we've fished much of the lake from the islands, deep holes, drop offs, deep weed beds etc. but only done well in the shallow horseshoe. That trend has continued this year. 3 outings has netted around 15 keeper gills per outing that came home with us (this is our local keeper location). Not much luck on rest of the lake or with the tip ups. We have seen other people catch some nice fish on their tip ups though so we hold out hope and keep setting them.
Location 2 -- The small wild crappie lake
Small 5 acre lake, up to 30 feet deep. This is in a fairly urban area but is a natural wild like that is really beautiful when you are on it. It gets very limited fishing pressure. Very limited shore fishing during open water season and you can't keep fish here due to well publicized dioxanne pollution issues.
The fishing story here is the abundance of medium sized (6-8") crappie. They are really fun to catch. They can be challenging but also very rewarding. They are usually suspending but can be at different depths and different parts of the water column. On any given day it also takes different jigging techniques to entice them. This year we've found them suspending 14' down in 20' of water over weeds, 7' down over 12' of water over solid bottom, and roaming shallow along the 10' break line.
Every time, once we've figured out the pattern it has been game on, fish after fish for a long time.
Location 3 -- subdivision pond
Small 1.5-2 acre pond. Giant (8-10" and thick) aggressive gills. They come up off the bottom. You still have to find them and sometimes work for them, using your flasher to tease them up from 10' bottom to 5' before they'll bite. Other times they just come up and hammer it a couple feet off the bottom. Some decent success on this lake with bass on tip-ups too.
General thoughts to the season:
We've fished in pretty cold weather this year but haven't used our shelter yet. We prefer to fish outside and though it's been cold it hasn't been windy when we've gone. We are enjoying the striker ice suites we bought two years ago, along with hand warmers, they do the trick.
Wax worms vs. spikes: I've always tilted towards wax worms but this year spikes have been the ticket. I think they pair well with the smaller tungsten jigs and love how they stay on the hook for many fish. This is important in keeping hands warm and holes active as you drop right back down after catching a fish. Have also had good success this year with artificials on the subdivision pond.
Still loving our Ion electric auger. Drilling a few extra holes because it is easy can lead to a lot more fish. In particular in the shallow horseshoe on lake #1, it is best to find the 'spot on the spot' right next to weed growth that is coming almost to the surface. This would be totally exhausting without the electric auger.
We have one Marcum Showdown and One Marcum LX-3Tci. Both Goby Jr and I prefer the LX-3 but both are viable. I think I may prefer the Showdown in zoom mode when fishing deeper than 20 ft but that isn't a common occurrence for us.
Haven't been in much of a picture taking mood lately but have taken a few this season that I will try to post later.
Feb Tue 19, 2019 4:19 pm
Good summary report. The first lake sounds like a winner.
The lakes in NC are way different than the natural lakes up north. I fished all summer and fall and haven’t found a weedbed yet.
Feb Tue 19, 2019 4:31 pm
Nice cover-all report. Appreciate the post. Ive been thinking about buying spikes for the finicky bite. When theyre only nibbling the end of my waxie, it doesnt matter how small the jig gets
Mar Mon 04, 2019 4:30 pm
Hit up a new lake this last weekend. It is a large (600 acre+) and fairly popular lake in SE Michigan. I've always shied away from it because a lot of people fish it but decided to give it a try. While it is large, most people congregate right off of both of the public access points. That being said, I've heard from a couple people that people fish those areas for good reason and not just laziness and ignorance. So, Goby Jr and I hit up the 'bay' community hole Friday evening and returned Saturday mid-day for another 3 hour session.
The highlight of the season occured Saturday when Goby Jr. hooks and lands a well built 28" pike jigging a spike w/ 2lb line and a 24"UL rod. I will take credit for a perfect grab at the hole. 10 minutes later I hook and land a 24" pike in similar fashion with Goby Jr. making a perfect grab at the hole. 10 minutes after that we land a 28" pike on a tip-up. Lots of gills caught Friday night and Saturday but many were small. Probably only 10 keeps.
It occurs to me that I haven't ice fished much this late in the season. With Michigan being on the western edge of the eastern time zone, it stays light an hour later than in Chicago so we could still see well on Friday night until around 7pm. Not use to that happening on the ice.
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Mar Mon 04, 2019 5:16 pm
Nice report. Gotta love the extra daylight light. Single digits here, don't know if I should get on the ice one last time or not. Hard to find motivation this time of year after all the 'show season' purchases piling up for the open water season.